Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


22 June 2010


It's been a whirlwind but finally I'm back home in Colorado.  Thank you to those who have been patient in checking this blog for more recent updates, but to be honest since the last stage at Stillwater we were straight into the van for a day and a half haul back to Denver.  Nice to be back home and take a deep breath!

Where do I start?  Best probably where I left off from last post and go from there huh!  Okay so the Minneapolis Criterium was a bunch of fun on such a cool downtown course.  This year, the race gave call ups to each GC leader from the teams, which translated to me being able to start second row on pretty much every stage. For the fast and furious crits this was a huge advantage, and actually, the Minneapolis crit I needed it the most after struggling to get my foot clipped in off the line!  Call it nerves or call it whatever I had a pretty good laugh at myself about it wondering just how long I have been doing this bike racing thing!  The race was fast and safe, riding in the top 20 the whole time just staying out of trouble and most importantly not wanting to lose any time from gaps at the finish. Mission accomplished and the legs felt great it was off to bed for the two big decisive stages to come.  Menomonie and Stillwater loomed ahead! (click link for the running joke of the week when talking about this stage)

Menomonie.  I checked out this course the week prior and knew it was going to be a good one for me and the green jersey campaign.  After about 30miles it gets really lumpy with short but steep climbs followed by roller after rollers.  After the last KOM it descends pretty much back into town again to start four, 3 mile finishing circuits each with like 16 corners. Unfortunately the stage wasn't as descisive as I was hoping for coming together in a bunch finish.  Over the last KOM there were some solid attacks coming from Bissell and UHC but nonetheless nothing stuck.  Hats off to Kelly Benefits who rode awesome all day, reeling in the main break during the finish circuits and keeping it together for a clean finish.  I stayed safe for 22nd and watched Type One light it up for the sprint win.  With no time lost or gained it would come down to the last stage in Stillwater for me to take the Best Amateur green jersey.  Hold onto your seats people!

Stillwater is a fantastic stage and a great way to end the week.  The crowds were even bigger than last year and the atmosphere was electric the whole way around the lap.  The circuit is quite simply unreal.  It begins straight up the famous Chilkoot Hill (average 18% climb with pitches over 20%), only to level out slightly then climb some more before rocketing down the back side to do it all again.  To put it in perspective we have only 20 laps of this monster to complete, and last year people lost over 7 minutes in that time.  At this point I was still 19sec back in the Best Amateur Competition sitting in third place and not an impossible feat to do on such a brutal stage.  To be honest there was no real super strategy for this race, simply just to stay up the front and ride as hard as possible as in the end, the hill sorts everyone out regardless.  In the bigger picture, Rory had just a handful of seconds to make up for the yellow jersey, so I figured the longer I could stay with him the better as he will need to launch an attack to take the win.

Once again I was able to get a second row start and was able to avoid some of the initial crashes right off the line.  The rest of the race was a blur really.  I can honestly say I was so focused on just staying in the first 10 wheels the whole race that I hardly thought about how much I was hurting.  With 7 laps to go Rory put it a testing attack (yeah that one hurt now that I think of it!) in which I was able to react to, but it was soon reeled back by the Kelly guys protecting Zwizanski lead.  Coming into the last three laps I had no idea if the green jersey was still in my group, but I was at the front of the bike race which I figured was the best place to be. At this point we were pretty strung out there was really no time to glance back.  Flying into the last lap Rory attacked super hard towards the top of Chillkoot Hill and forced a split, and from this point it was full gas to the finish.  Only Amaran (Jamis) was able to follow him (I was seeing Elvis at this point) and I was left chasing them both with Veilleux (Kelly) and Borrajo (Jamis) sitting on my wheel.  Riding past Kat at the very top of the course for the final time I knew things were looking good in the hopes for taking that green jersey.  She was absolutely going ballistic alongside Brad who was also similarly going off trolley shouting and screaming! 

Turning into the bottom of Chilkoot Hill for the final climb to the line both Veilluex and Borrajo came around me and it was every man for himself.  I clawed my way back to them just before the line to take 4th place, my highest every finish at an NRC!  Next stop was a rapid collapse into a shady patch of  sidewalk grass and feelings of seeing my gels and gatorade again.  Soon enough Kat came running down and the word was I had taken the Best Amateur Jersey! The rest of the boys trickled in and it was an amazing moment to share it with them, and to have achieved a goal I had set for myself essential 12 months ago that day.  The icing on the cake was having such a strong stage result, alongside rocketing up the final GC to finish 12th overall.  To make it even better Rio Grande finished 6th on the Team GC and were the top amatuer sqaud.  Awesome!  Here is a link to some stage footage taken by Velonews.

We did it Josh!  Thanks for all your help mate.

Our host family for the week came out in full support for Team Rio Grande.  Thanks Janet and Mark for opening up your home and supporting the traveling circus that it bike racing! See you next year!

The lads rode awesome all week and kept me hydrated and out of trouble.....fantastic work fellas.

It is an amazing feeling to set a goal, work hard and the to have it pan out just exactly as you'd hoped for.  Winning the best amateur jersey was something I had set for myself ever since doing this race last year.  Without a doubt there is so many great people that I have in my corner that I just can't thank enough for their love, friendship and support for this whole bicycle racing caper that I got into.  Family, friends, team mates, sponsors.....I could write a list a page long of names I have no doubt! Thank you all so much!

Next stop for me now is to take some down time with a mid season break.  The Rio race schedule will see us head back to Oregon mid July for Cascade and then Tour of Utah in August which I can't wait for.  But for now, burritos, ice cream and some slow, scenic mountain biking! And time to perhaps think about some new goals......cheers, cw


Kat said...

You should fire your videographer and get someone who can hold the camera straight. :)

Anonymous said...

Great job Chris, we're all really happy for you! All the best for the rest of the season - The Lowes.

Chris Winn said...

Thanks Lowe family! Always great to hear from home. I hope things are going well for everyone.

All the best, cw.

Reg said...

were the pockets of that jersey fulla sand? Bager

Chris Winn said...

Haha sandbagger? Not sure how that fits racing an invitational only Pro/Cat 1 NRC race...we were combined one field just like any other NRC.

green said...

Sand 'bager'? Just remind me again what a 'bager' is. And i am not sure how sand 'baging' is anyway related to your best ever result in an NRC race. Love your work stein!